Sri Lankan armed forces on Wednesday claimed to have captured an important administrative hub of the separatist LTTE, which also served as a base for the Sea Tigers, in the north-western region of Mannar.
It’s the first time that armed forces have recaptured the Vedithalthivu harbour town — one of the biggest towns in the region, around 20km north of Mannar — since the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) had captured it in 1990.
The current operation was jointly launched by the personnel of the 58 Division of the Army and Commando Brigade. The town was captured early on Wednesday after days of pitched battle with the LTTE. Combing operations were on in the area till late night on Wednesday. Casualty figures could not be ascertained.
Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the town had been recaptured by the LTTE soon after the IPKF left Sri Lanka in 1990. Since then, the armed forces had been unable to mount a successful attack because the LTTE had maintained its dominance in the area.
“Strategically, the place was important to the LTTE because not only was it one of the terrorist group’s administrative and logistical hubs, it also served as a base for the Sea Tigers. It has a natural harbour and the water is shallow. So, the bigger ships of the Sri Lankan Navy were not able to get close to the harbour. The port also served as important point for the LTTE to engage in smuggling,” Nanayakkara said.
The defence ministry said after the capture of the harbour, the LTTE would have little scope but to shift the base for Sea Tigers further north.